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Road Trip

     “Travel is like a giant blank canvas, and the painting on the canvas is only limited by one’s imagination.” — Ross Morley

Gypsy Lee at sunrise at Cholla Campground in the Tonto Basin about 35 miles north of Globe, Arizona.

Gypsy Lee at sunrise at Cholla Campground in the Tonto Basin, with Roosevelt Lake in the background, about 35 miles north of Globe, Arizona. — Photo by Pat Bean

Tonto Basin and Roosevelt Lake

            “Let’s take Gypsy Lee, Dusty and Pepper and go to Eisenhower Lake,” said my friend Jean, whose dog, Dusty, I pet sit during the week while she’s at work. Gypsy Lee is the small RV I lived in for almost nine years while traveling this country full-time, and Pepper, of course, is my own spoiled dog.

My three traveling companions. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My three traveling companions. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Where’s Eisenhower Lake?” I asked between sips of Jack and Coke during a Friday happy hour, when we were sitting out on my bedroom balcony watching the sun go down.

“You know. Up by Globe (Arizona).”

“In the Tonto Basin?”

“Is that by Globe?” She asked.

“Yes. And I’ve been there. It’s a beautiful area and lake. Let me show you the photos I took of the area some years back.” And I did, and she responded with just the right amount of oohs and aahs.

Those of you who are familiar with the Tonto Basin area are probably by now exclaiming: “What in the Sam Hill are those two old broads talking about? There’s no Eisenhower Lake in Arizona.” While others might be thinking: “Are they stupid? The only Eisenhower Lake I know about is in Rhode Island.”

Of course we soon discovered that the lake near Globe is named Roosevelt. We just got our presidents mixed up.  But just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so Roosevelt Lake would be just as awesome.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Choosing gratitude and joy.  http://tinyurl.com/k68qur5  Good advice for all those who find themselves stuck on the road. There are a lot worse situations in life in which you can find yourself.

Monday Art

            “I do not know which to prefer. The beauty of inflections. Or the beauty of innuendoes. The Blackbird whistling. Or just after.” – Wallace Stevens

Monday art by Pat Bean

Monday art by Pat Bean

And a Few Birdy Quotes

            “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” – Maya  Angelou

            “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” – Henry Van Dyke

     “Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble.” Roger Tory Peterson

            “When birds burp, it must taste like bugs.” – Bill Watterson

            “Yes sir, I am a tortured man for all seasons, as they say, and I have powerful friends in high places. Birds sing where I walk, and children smile when they see me coming.” Hunter S. Thompson

            “Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.” Rebecca West      

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: The Day After http://tinyurl.com/ltfx4wl What is a friend?

Rattlesnake Bridge

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” – Isaac Newton

First came the tail. Is that like walking up the down staircase? -- Photo by Pat Bean

First came the tail. Is that like walking up the down staircase? — Photo by Pat Bean

Hometown Point of Interest

When I’m traveling, I research the cities I will pass through along the way. I find this type of advance preparation both fun and educational, especially since  Internet sites like Wikipedia, Trip Advisor and Roadside America, make it an easy task.

Pepper staring down at the traffic passing below as we travel through the snake's belly. -- Photo  by Pat Bean

Pepper staring down at the traffic passing below as we travel through the snake’s belly. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve also found many sight-seeing ideas by using simple key words, like  “Things to do” in Lake Jackson, Texas (the Sea Center), or Camden, Arkansas (Poison Spring State Park), or Hot Springs, South Dakota (The Mammoth Site). Well you get the idea.

So why not apply this same philosophy to my current non-wandering lifestyle, I asked myself? So I did. And I discovered over a hundred (I don’t exaggerate) places of interest within a few miles of my Mount Lemmon foothills’ apartment.

One of these was Rattlesnake Bridge, which Pepper and I took a walk across yesterday morning. I learned of its existence on Roadside America’s web site.

We entered the 280 foot long bridge through its tail, where motion sensors set off an eerie rattling sound that had Pepper looking for the source.

The unique bridge crossed six lanes of traffic on Broadway Boulevard before the snake  spit us out through its head, which sits near a small landscaped park and walking trail. Pepper and I followed the trail for a while before backtracking to Cayenne, our ruby-red vehicle.

The snake's head, which we entered to retrace out steps back to the tail. == Photo by Pat Bean

The snake’s head, which we entered to retrace out steps back to the tail. == Photo by Pat Bean

According to Roadside America, the concept for the bridge came from Tucson artist Simon Donovan in 1997. The bridge was then completed in 2002, using public art funding.

Pepper and I had the bridge to ourselves when we walked across it at about 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. It was a delightful way to start our day.

Bean Pat: Travels and Trifles http://tinyurl.com/mqmwtad Dreamy!

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Fresh Eyes

             “The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time.” – Bill Bryson

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper's hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper’s hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Seeing Things in a Different Light When I travel, I look at things differently. I think it’s because I expect to see something new that I’ve never seen before. The world always seems more interesting when I’m on the road.

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m coming to realize, however, that travel is not a requirement for this to happen. Do the Catalina Mountains, which  currently provide the backdrop to my days, look different to a traveler seeing them for the first time? Would the crisp white blossoms of a saguaro cactus spell-mind the eyes of a traveler more impressively than they do my own eyes that have now been among them for two seasons? While travelers may only see the mountain range on a sunny day, or a misty day, or a rainy day, the joy of first sight can’t help but pump the adrenalin through the veins of any nature enthusiast. I envy those who are seeing these mountains for the first time, as I recall my first view of the Catalinas. . But now I’ve now been blessed to see this mountain range in its many moods.  I’ve watched the rocky mammoths as the morning sun crowned its peaks in a golden light, I’ve seen it as the evening sun has turned its rocky cliffs a glimmering rose hue, and I’ve seen it frosted with the sugary granules of snow. I’ve watched as globules of bright green atop a saguaro plant have opened into a disk of white petals with a pale ochre center. A traveler passing through the saguaro’s Arizona home in March might only see an awesome, statuesque cactus with arms stretching skyward, and might not know that such a beauty is likely to be 100 years old, or that it wears a headdress of white blooms in late May and early June. There are as many advantages to watching the passing landscape while rooted as there are in catching glimpses of Mother Nature’s wonders on the fly. One only has to retain that sense of awe so easily achieved at first sight. I suspect that in this late-blooming season of my life, there are still roads out there I will travel.  But in the meantime, I plan to follow Bill Bryson’s advice and try to look at the world around me be as if for the first time. I don’t think I will be disappointed.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Monica Devine http://tinyurl.com/ot8bqdb This blogger has an eye for seeing things in a new and exciting

           “I am a wanderer passionately in love with life.” — Aleksandr Kuprin … Me, too.

Even gray days are colorful on a fall day traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains. -- Photo b Pat Bean

Even gray days are colorful on a fall day traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains. — Photo b Pat Bean

Rainy Fall Mornings

I woke up to a gentle rain this morning, with the hazy light of a gray sunrise streaming in through the slats of the shutters on my bedroom window. At night the narrow, rectangular blank spaces of this wooden curtain cast a pattern of light and shadow on the ceiling above my head.

Virginia creeper alongside the parkway. I do so love the color red -- Photo by Pat Bean

Virginia creeper alongside the parkway. I do so love the color red — Photo by Pat Bean

I often lie away and study this artful illumination, letting my mind drift into fantasy worlds. I don’t like sleeping in the dark, so I never close the shutters, preferring to let the  pale light that flows into my bedroom comfort me.

The first thing I do on awakening this morning is to go out on my balcony and stare at the mountains to the north of my third floor apartment. They are one of the reasons I have stayed put now for nearly two years.

These tall peaks that stretch nearly 10,000 feet up to the sky bring peace to my nest of bright new furniture and growing stacks of  books. I tried to take a photo of this morning’s misty mountain scene, but my camera battery was dead – and by the time I charged it, the mountains had been eaten by the mist, a sure sign it’s going to be a full gray day.

But that’s OK. I love gray days. They turn the mind inward and slow down the chaos of the world.

On this day two years ago, it was also raining. I was in Front Royal, Virginia, waiting at an almost deserted RV park for the rain to stop before I headed south on Skyline Trail through Shenandoah National Park and down the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Mountains.

What a grand adventure that autumn was. But then this fall is charming, too. While my body may remain rooted to one place these days, my mind still travels the road. And autumn is a great time to travel wherever you are.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Things I love http://tinyurl.com/pcqvnhk One of my favorite bloggers captures nature at her artful best.

One Who Believed in Me

   “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Zigler           “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt

Yesterday's Art: I think the reason I'm always sticking butterflies in my paintings is because I see them as an image of transformation -- and connect. -- Art by Pat Bean

Yesterday’s Art: I think the reason I’m always sticking butterflies in my paintings is because I see them as an image of transformation — and connect. — Art by Pat Bean

We All Need That Someone When I look back at the things I have accomplished during the three-quarters of a century I have lived on this planet, I am truly amazed. Most of these things – like interviewing three presidents and writers such as John Irving, Terry Tempest Williams and Maya Angelou, to leading my newspaper’s coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics, relate to my career as a journalist. .           And the first step on that journey began at the age of 25 when I suddenly wanted to become a writer. Such a thought was so audacious for a high-school dropout with five still quite young children, one still in diapers, that I hid my dream from everyone for two years. I wonder now where I would be if the first person I had told my dream to had been anyone but a statuesque, silver-haired woman, whose sureness of herself scared me — and whom I never called anything but Sister Bright.

Snowbasin, where the 2002 Winter Olympics downhill events were held,  during a fall drive up Ogden Canyon in Northern Utah. In one of those the-world-is-small coincidences, Sister Bright ended up living for a while with her daughter in Roy, Utah, just 15 minutes from my Ogden, Utah, home. Occasionally I would pick her up and we would take a scenic drive up the canyon. She was frail by this time, and the outings cheered her up. It was my turn to pass it on.

A peek at Snowbasin, where the 2002 Winter Olympics downhill events were held, during a fall drive up Ogden Canyon in Northern Utah. In one of those the-world-is-small coincidences, Sister Bright ended up living for a while with her daughter in Roy, Utah, just 15 minutes from my Ogden, Utah, home. Occasionally I would pick her up and we would take a scenic drive up the canyon. She was frail by this time, and the outings cheered her up. It was my turn to pass it on.

Instead of laughing at my dream, she nourished and encouraged it, and in doing so gave a tiny bit of her own self-confidence to me. It was all I needed to step out of the closet and to apply for a reporter’s job at a local Texas Gulf Coast newspaper. What I got instead was a position, at the grand hourly salary of $1.40, as a darkroom flunky – and a promise I could perhaps write if all my own tasks had been completed. That happened in March of 1967, and in August of that same year I was promoted to the position of reporter – and given a 25-cent an hour raise. It was a start. Until her death, Sister Bright and I kept in sporadic touch with each other from wherever we were. Lorine Zylks Bright, who had hidden desires of her own to become a writer, and whom I finally realized fought her own battles of insecurity, finally achieved her own dream when her book, “New London, 1937: One Woman’s Memory of Orange and Green,” was published in 1977. The book is about the explosion at the New London School in Tyler, Texas, which killed 300 school children and teachers before I was born. Lorine’s children were attending the school at the time, but thankfully escaped unharmed.

I think Sister Bright would be pleased to think that her book is now selling for $75 -- or more -- even if it's because the book is rare.

I think Sister Bright would be pleased to think that her book is now selling for $75 — or more — even if it’s because the book is rare.

In an odd coincidence, my granddaughter, Heidi, was teaching at this very same school back in 2006 when I visited Tyler during my RV travels. Together we toured the museum commemorating the explosion and watched a video of my beloved Sister Bright speaking about the event. I had major tears in my eyes Isn’t it amazing how small is the world in which we live in? Amazon has one used copy of the book available for $75. I gave my own autographed copy of the book to my oldest daughter, Deborah, when I took to the road.  Like me, she was encouraged by this remarkable woman whose enlightened spirit, I would like to believe, is looking down on us from somewhere peaceful. I wonder how many other women she inspired? And I sincerely hope that everyone has a Sister Bright in their lives.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Say’s Phoebe http://tinyurl.com/oyoklck Nature is all around us when we just take the time to look.

  “Latin is a dead language, it is plain to see. It killed off all the Romans, and now it’s killing me.” – a comment in my high school yearbook from a Latin student classmate

Today's art, from back when I felt I had to sign my paintings boldly.

Today’s art, from back when I felt I had to sign my paintings boldly.

Illegitimi Non Carborundum

As is common in the work place, I one time found myself working with someone who was driving me crazy. Since I loved my job, which at the time was environmental reporter at a 65,000 circulation daily newspaper, and the person making me crazy had the power to fire me, I knew I needed to find a way to cope.

Knowing my frustration, a friend gave me a desk plaque that read: Illegtimi Non Carborundum. If you don’t know what it means, and since I don’t want to make this an X-rated blog, check it out at: http://tinyurl.com/rsbmp

Looking at the Latin saying usually eased the tension in my shoulders so I could do my job.

The funny part of this story is that only the person who could accurately translate the Latin quote, was the person who was “wearing” me down.

Thankfully, he never knew he was why I had it on my desk. He was that kind of person – thankfully.

            Bean Pat:  Velvet Verbosity  http://tinyurl.com/lk9ptjv It’s nice to know that perhaps one day we can stop faking it. I, like this blogger, was quite a late bloomer

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